Taking care of your child’s mental health and emotional well being

Taking care of a child’s physical needs is relatively easy to do. After all, parents can see when their kids are cold, hungry or hurt and on most occasions, children will tell them so directly. However, your child cannot really comprehend their emotional needs, which is why they usually don’t know what they should ask for or how to deal with something bothering them. Because of this, it can be rather difficult for parents to decipher their behaviour.

All children should be provided with unconditional family love, encouragement to explore and discover the world and themselves. It is up to you to offer proper support, which will positively affect their mental and emotional development. Children may not know how to express themselves the best, but they definitely soak up everything they hear, see and feel around them. This is why it’s up to you to show them the way when it comes to a positive attitude, self-acceptance, confidence and self-esteem. Here are some handy hints on how to treat and talk to your child.
Be honest about your own shortcomings

You should never use extremes when you spend time with your kids. Basically, don’t treat them like adults who can understand self-deprecating humour but don’t present yourself as a superhero either. Children need to know that you as their role model are simply human and that there’s nothing wrong with failing sometimes or not being good at something. Therefore, don’t hesitate to talk about both your achievements and shortcomings with your kids in a positive manner. This will teach them from an early age that it’s OK to be happy for things you accomplish and that it’s perfectly fine to admit defeat on occasion so that you can move on in a positive manner.

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Engage with your child during play time

It’s important for children to spend time with their peers as they grow up. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from constructive playtime with you. Quite the contrary! When they can’t play with their friends, don’t hesitate to step up and take the time to engage in play with your kids. This can be absolutely anything, from colouring to role play. Having you as a playmate creates various possibilities for you to connect more, share ideas and open up. Sometimes, kids can’t do that with their peers as they’re only focused on the fun bit, so having you as a friend during playtime adds a new dimension of variety to play time!

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Let your kids choose their own clothes (within reason)

If your child wants to go to school in their clown outfit from the last birthday party, you will of course have to explain why that’s not really appropriate. Remember, this isn’t about the way they dress for different occasions but the way they develop their own personal style. Dressing your baby or toddler can be quite fun, so of course, enjoy picking out clothes based on your own tastes and preferences. However, it’s important to listen to your kids from the first time they express a certain desire about their choice of clothes. Allowing them to pick and choose things that they personally like as much as possible can have a serious influence on their self-esteem and the way they view their own uniqueness.

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Know how to talk to them about their bad behaviour

There will always be certain situations when you will have to reprimand your child for bad behaviour. These are the moments when you have to be very careful with your words. If you constantly criticise your children, they will truly believe that they are bad, which is something that will haunt them into adulthood. This can present as shyness, low self-esteem and withdrawn behavior. Rather than commenting on how naughty they were, instead, focus on the behavior itself and talk to them about why such-and-such actions are not OK. Treat them with understanding while remaining calm and your kids will respond the same.

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Talk openly and honestly about feelings

This should be obvious concerning healthy growth and mental development, but one would be surprised at how many parents simply don’t know how to deal with ‘emotional talk’ or sweep it under the rug just because it’s a topic that kids don’t necessarily bring up. Generally, children will never start these types of conversations because they mostly don’t know what their feelings mean. Therefore, it’s important to recognise the emotions your child may be dealing with in different situations in an openly, calm and positive manner. Take time to discuss how different emotions feel, the way to deal with them and most importantly, just how natural they are.

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Respect your child’s fears and anxieties

Making fun or ignoring the fears a child may be the worst thing you could do when it comes to their emotional and mental development. Even if they’re scared of something silly, that fear is real enough for them! It’s essential that they know you’re there for them to protect them and help them overcome that fear. Never, under any circumstances, should you let your child believe that they’re on their own or ignore them if something frightens them. Kids will need time to understand why something may not be as scary as it seems and they need to be supported and allowed to grasp this in their own pace with you there every step of the way.

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